The obvious choice is Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, who partnered Stones at the 2018 World Cup when England reached the semi-finals.
But former England striker Darren Bent suggests the Red Devils skipper has been ‘all over the place’ this season – and Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings should start instead.
Mings has been part of an overachieving Villa side this campaign, with a host of Englishmen at its core.
The likes of Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash and Matt Targett have been at the centre of Villa’s push for Europe as Dean Smith’s side currently sit six points behind fourth place West Ham with two games in hand.
While Mings was a surprise inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad back in 2019, the 27-year-old has since established himself as one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs.
And for Bent, the fact Mings is left-footed makes Southgate’s decision more straight-forward, especially with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez still recovering from injury and Eric Dier struggling for form at Tottenham.
“I want to go with Tyrone Mings, just because he gives you that balance on the left-hand side,” Bent told talkSPORT.
“This season, as well, I think consistency – Mings has been very good.
“I know we talk about Maguire, but at times, he’s been all over the place defensively.
“Michael Keane has improved, he’s in for a shout, he’s had a good season at Everton.
“But just for balance on that side, I’m going to go for Mings.”
England’s options at centre-back pale in significance to their talent across the rest of the pitch, particularly in attacking areas.
Southgate will have some seriously tough decisions to make later in the spring – and this month’s internationals will give him a final chance to assess his options.
But speaking on talkSPORT’s Breakfast show on Tuesday morning, the England boss refused to describe his embarrassment of riches as a ‘headache’.
He said: “I can remember being at Boro playing Spurs and we were 2-1 up and Harry Redknapp put Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov on and I looked at my bench and had five academy kids – that’s a headache!
“When you’ve got a choice of outstanding talent, of course there are big decisions you have to make but in the end some of these decisions are taken out of your hands.
“For our squad for March we’re already without Henderson and Barnes – how many of these guys will be fit?
“Then it’s a case of who is playing the best, who has the pedigree, who is in form, who fits into the way we want to play with and without the ball
“But of course there is a lot of talent in these attacking areas, it’s hugely exciting.”